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Ut Gret


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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars US band UT GRET has been around in one form or another since the 80's, although their history as a recording unit didn't start until the second half of the 90's. From their base in Lousville, Kentucky, they have created four full-length studio albums so far. The most recent of these is "Ancestors' Tale", which was released through the Italian label Altrock Records in the spring of 2014.

Ut Gret's self-description on social network Facebook reads as follows: "Embracing rock, jazz, world music, classical music and the spirit of adventure found in the avant-garde we forge ahead". From my point of view this is an accurate description, and "Ancestors' Tale" comes with a high recommendation to anyone who finds that specific description to be an interesting one.

Report this review (#1229474)
Posted Saturday, August 2, 2014 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another stellar release thanks to AltrOck Productions. Melodic, at times Canterburian, Bruford/Annette Peacock/Earthworksish, King Crimsonesque, UZedish, Zeuhlish, and, always, perfectly AltrOck. Wonderful vocals. Wonderful presence up front of woodwinds (including didgeridoo!). Awesome interweaving of electric keys and mellotrons. From the album's opening a cappella vocal notes and ensuing woodwind weave I knew I was going to love this music.

Album highlights: "The Raw, The Cooked, and The Over-easy" (5:27) which sounds like it came from some classic Latin-influenced jazz album from the 1960s--at least until the amazing KING CRIMSONian shifts at the 2:50 mark and again later at the 4:45 mark (10/10); the COS/ANNETTE PEACOCK-like Avant-Canterbury-ish title song (5:24) (10/10); the mesmerizingly beautiful multi-instrumental weave of "Walk the Plank" (7:37) (9/10); the fun hyper-weave of "Hopperknockity Tune" (4:00) an instrumental which sounds like it could come from an EARTHWORKS or FIVE-STOREY ENSEMBLE album (9/10); the mesmerizing minimalist OCEANSIZE-like magic of "The Grotesque Pageantry of Fading Empires" (9:17) (9/10), and; the FOCUS-like piano and electric guitar duet work and John Wetton-like bass play of "Zodiac" (8/10).

In the vein of last year's stunning AltrOck releases from FIVE-STOREY ENSEMBLE and EMPTY DAYS we have another adventurous and yet entirely accessible collection of fresh music.

A 4.5 star album I'm bumping up for its diversity, daring, and freshness.

Report this review (#1231960)
Posted Sunday, August 3, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars The American band Ut Gret bring us a mix of avant-prog, retro prog, world music, folk and jazz. This is not music that jumps between styles, rythms and tunes within the space of seconds. No; Ancestors Tale is a remarkable accesible record. These are very coherent compositions while very diverse in styles and influences. There is some great playing and singing but it is all done with restraint and taste. It sounds very fresh and colourfull. For all the mellotron nuts among you: there is a fair bit of it on this album.

What is there not to like? well, nothing really. This is simply one of my favourite albums of the year.

I am tempted to give this album 5 stars as compensation for the many who gave this album 1 star (Have those people actually listened to this album more then once, or just listened to a few snippets on progstreaming and rewarded this experience by giving one star?) However, somewhere in the range 4- 4,5 is more realistic.

Report this review (#1259104)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2014 | Review Permalink
3 stars Out of Louisville, Kentucky, comes a fascinating brand of avant-rock in the form of Ut Gret, a band that describes its music as 'pan-idiomatic' due to its genre-crossing nature. From dueling bassons and clarinets to Mellotron and belly dancers, Ut Gret certainly isn't interested in being mundane as it explores the edge where jazz, rock, folk, classical, and world music collide. Their latest release, Ancestor's Tale, is an intriguing sonic documentation of that world.

The record kicks it off with the title track, "Ancestor's Tale," as female voices enter one by one, overlaying in interesting harmonization before the band breaks out and follows up with a similar theme done with an array of woodwinds, bass and drums. This piece, originally written for a silent film (Call of Chthuhlu) takes the listener through a bit of what's typical for the band: jazzy lines on electric piano, grooving drums, and an eventual Mellotron filling in the space for lots of woodwind solos. While vocals aren't necessarily the law in Ut Gret, there are a few tracks that make use of them, generally in similar style as the opener. Another one of these is "The Raw, the Cooked, and the Overeasy," a song that demonstrates not only the ability to write cool song titles, but also the knack for covering a wide amount of ground. The piece starts off jazzy, even bluesy, as it carries us through the opening verses. When the singing comes to a break the band sets ground for some great violin, bassoon and a flute improvisation. The ending proves itself to be the real treat though as it fires off heavy unison bursts interspersed with a descending guitar pattern while a catchy drum beat accompanied by flute and tron strings take us to the finish line.

Combining both mood and rhythm are a couple of standout tracks, "Hopperknockity Tune" and "An Elephant in Berlin." The former, dedicated to Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper, flows from classic Cantebury moods to a headspinning 7/8 overladen with various polyrhythms for a thrilling ride. "An Elephant in Berlin" is a driven by a sharp, staccato motiff that knows how to punch its menacing chords at the right time. Chaotic solos in 12/8 abound on virtually all the woodwinds that band employs before moving to one of the coolest moments on the album: the contra-bassoon solo. Yes, you heard me right, Ut Gret delivers a sexy low-rumbing contra-bassoon solo that leads us to moody moments ranging from dark to dreamy and nostalgic before coming full circle to the original staccato riff. In case you didn't get enough contra-bassoon, don't worry, "Dinosaur on the Floor" is still on its way.

Ancestor's tale ends up being quite a fun listen even if a bit inconsistent at times. Songs like the closer, "Walk the Plank," have gorgeous moments that are well thought out and delivered with feeling, but there are also certain riffs or solo areas that could be shortened, areas where the fat could be trimmed. On the other hand, despite the fact that there are certain techniques or compositional elements that are very familiar (such as the Frippian moments on "Zodiac"), there seems to be something about Ut Gret that seems very personal and even fresh. Their combination of musical genres blends well with the individual performers sense of phrasing, their blend of instruments is interesting and presents many pleasant surprises, and the overall feel of the album is genuine. Ancestor's Tale shows a band that is headed in a solid direction and likely has a few tricks up their sleeves for us for next time.

Report this review (#1287525)
Posted Saturday, October 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
4 stars Today's task is to review "Ut Gret's" album "Ancestor's Tale" and that will I do now, honest and precise. Ut Gret is a Kentucky band with now four records in their discograpjy. Their first was released 1998 and now 2014 has their fourth been ready for purchasing. Before me, the record has got good reviews and I definitely will continue in that way. I wouldn't say the cover is remarkable, but fortunately the music is. It lasts for almost one our and feautures the piano, organ and mellotron player Stephen Roberts, the basson and flute player Jackie Royce, the clarinet man Steve Good, the drummer and percussionist Gary Pahler, the bass, chapman stick, guitar and electronics person Joee Conroy and the guests Gregory Acker(sax, flute and percussion), Cheyeene Mize(voice and violin) and Sydney Simpson(bass). Together these persons have ctreated a vibrant and vivid musical world I am glad to have encountered.

It feels like "Ut Gret" with this album totally are doing their own thing. I have hard to remember groups or artists that are sounding similar. Well, I get associations to Stravinsky at many point but that is mostly the bassoon. The bassoon is a fantastic instrument which wide and homely sound makes me laugh and enjoy the msuic even more. Oh how I love the freedom in this music and the use of different instruments than the ordinar rock ones. Bassoon and clarinet are perfect rock instruments I insist. The whole album is very good and the moments of glory are many but I will point out my favourites for you. I can't keep secret that the most fetching place here is "Ancestors' tale", the title track which is a little masterpiece. I got trapped in it by its wonderful melody, vocals and inventions(10/10). The even more crazy and progressive "Hopperknockity tune" filled me with the same wonder(10/10) and my impression of "the Raw, the Cooked and the Overeasy" was almost as amazed(9/10). I though that "Dinosaur on the floor"(8/10) and "Walk the plank"(8/10) was wonderful pieces as well and the fragments I haven't mentioned are worth hearing as well. "Ancestors' Tale" is an intriguing record that becomes better and better every time I hear it so I would definitely recommend it. I will get four prog stars of me.

Report this review (#1295283)
Posted Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars What an enjoyable album this turned out to be. very much in the Avant camp with guest female vocals from Cheyenne Mize who also plays violin on several tracks. Bring her in full time, please! She actually reminds me of the great Emily Hay. Two former FRENCH TV members(Steve & Steve) are part of this band, on keyboards and clarinet respectively. We get plenty of bassoon and even some didgeridoo. I was really surprised to hear mellotron on this album as you don't usually hear that in this style of music.

"Ancestors' Tale" is my favourite. Vocal melodies rise then the horns and drums take over honking and beating before the vocals kick in along with flute. Beautiful stuff. This is such a relaxing and inviting tune and we get mellotron that comes and goes as well. A gorgeous piece. "The Departure" is one minute of growly bassoon and intricate drum work. "Hopperknockity" is a tribute to Hugh Hopper and it's an instrumental. Horns and drums lead the way to start then it settles back before kicking back in. Mellotron comes and goes and I have to say the interplay on this one is stunning. Hugh would be proud. "Selves Unmade" features vocals, clarinet and drums standing out early on then it settles as she speaks some words. Themes are repeated and there's a nice horn solo 2 1/2 minutes in. The vocals return then it all settles right down and becomes avant-garde before the vocals come back to end it.

"The Raw, The Crooked and The Overeasy" has a full sound a minute in followed by vocals. A calm before 3 minutes as a beautiful instrumental soundscape takes over. "An Elephant In Berlin" is led by drums, piano and bass clarinet(I think) as the soundscape shifts and changes slightly throughout. A dark calm arrives before 5 minutes as the contra-bassoon growls and the piano tinkles. It all kicks back in at 7 1/2 minutes. "Dinosaur On The Floor" is humerous with the contra-bassoon honking away. Vocals arrive before 2 minutes. "The Grotesque Pageantry Of Fading Empires" is a slow paced song where the guitar eventually cries out for over a minute before the pace picks up. I like this one. "Zodiac" and "Walk The Plank" both have a chamber music vibe to them and both are melancholic.

Without question one of the highlights for me as far as 2014 albums go. It's melodic yet very interesting throughout. Lots to like here and easily 4 stars.

Report this review (#1385589)
Posted Saturday, March 21, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have a great sympathy for albums that can be taken as pairs (SFTW and Heavy Horses, for example). Those you have to listen to both to fully understand both at one time. "Radical Symmetry" sure is paired with with "Ancestors Tale".

While the former has a breathtaking eclecticism (which still leaves me wondering about the choice of the title and the reason to be a radical symmetry on the album), "Ancestor's Tale" is presented as a much more groovy and jazzy album, relaxing really (I can say that I noticed even some flavors of bossa nova). There is a little less of eclecticism in the instruments - but when we talk about UT Gret, this statement is somewhat misleading - and the band's sound in a much more concise pace than previously. The songs flow almost without one realizing the passage from one track to another, even if many moments remain engraved in our mind, for the quality of the track. And here the ultimate example is certainly "Selvez Unmaden" (Always loved existencialist songs) and the absolutley great "The raw, the cooked and the oveseay". The voice of Cheyenne Mize and flutes, always married to a clarinet, saxophone or basoon fill me your ears and satisfies with the melodies. If "An elephant in Berlin" reminds us Henry Cow, "Dinosaaur on the floor" is all King Crimson - with the instruments creatively simulating what would be the dinosaur moving around (I guess).

More surprises and more pleasentness. Damn it, I guess I AM a fan of UT GreAt.

Going to give the full 5 stars, full confident that the full art-work matches the concept and the tonality of this great work.

Report this review (#1451212)
Posted Monday, August 10, 2015 | Review Permalink

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